Between Tin Hat and the New Klezmer Trio‚ Ben Goldberg has been living on the fringes of jazz for some time. As a result‚ the clarinetist sees Go Home's self-titled debut as a return to his roots -- not just to his musical upbringing‚ but to the Bay Area jazz community of the 1990s. Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola were on that scene‚ too in an early version of the Charlie Hunter Trio. Cornetist Ron Miles rounds out the quartet‚ giving the band two lead instruments from the genre's early days. No worries‚ though -- this ain't Preservation Hall they're building.
Goldberg and Miles open in the clear on "TGO‚" harmonizing on a descending line that is well-constructed‚ melodic‚ and rooted in a traditional jazz sound… except that there's a sizzling buzz from an amplifier that essentially acts as a musical undertone. When Hunter and Amendola burst into action‚ "TGO" becomes a whole other animal. Goldberg and Miles' respective solos stay pretty classic‚ but with Hunter's funked-up guitar/bass mash-up and Amendola's big beat‚ the overall product is 21st-century nasty.
Hunter's own music has improved dramatically since Ropeadope signed him and "let Charlie be Charlie." That said‚ this DIY project is the best thing Hunter's done in many a moon -- not only because his solos on "Wazee" and "Ethan's Song" burn like napalm‚ but because he can fall in behind Goldberg and Miles on the meditative "Reparation" and give the beauty a big upgrade. Hunter and Amendola's rhythmic chemistry supercharges everything they touch‚ and the raw power Amendola keeps harnessed throughout the date gets wonderfully loose on the closer "Papermaker."
All the music comes from Goldberg's pen‚ and he gives himself some pretty hot solos on the bossa-based "Root and Branch" and the crushing "Inevitable." But it's Go Home's galvanizing group dynamic that makes the sale. Miles' cornet has a shining purity that contrasts beautifully with Goldberg's overall attack‚ and when they counter each other on "Lace" and "Isoceles"‚ they are a two-headed monster that talks to itself.
"Isoceles" is one of four tracks recorded live at a show in Mill Valley‚ just north of San Francisco. The vibe is off the charts on these tracks‚ and no wonder: It's a homecoming‚ which -- for Goldberg -- is entirely apropos.
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